-Dr. Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC
Many people think that old age and forgetfulness are complimentary events. It is commonly assumed that the older one gets, the more likely they are to become more forgetful. As their parents age into their sixties and seventies, many children become concerned when they notice their parent’s forgetfulness. The children begin to worry if mom or dad has dementia. While their parent’s lapse in remembering may be caused by dementia, it could just be simple forgetfulness too. After all, we misplace or forget things our whole lives without eliciting a concern until we reach our twilight years. It is important to understand and spot the signs between simply old age and dementia.
A person suffering from dementia doesn’t simply forget something, instead their memory disappears entirely. While someone dealing with old age might forget a grandchild’s name, someone suffering from dementia might forget that he or she has a grandchild altogether. Also, someone’s old age might cause them to miss an appointment out of forgetfulness, while someone’s dementia might lead them to believe that they have an appointment when they never made one.
Dementia evidence is certainly more alarming to loved ones than forgetfulness. Someone with dementia might forget a word and substitute it with pure gibberish instead of admitting that they forgot a word. Dementia leads them to believe in their mind that the gibberish is the correct word. It is imperative for children to be observant of their parent’s behavior if forgetfulness becomes common place and extreme so dementia can be properly diagnosed.